Don't Play Hard to Get: Why Playing it Cool Can Cost You the Job

Don’t Play Hard to Get:

Why Playing it Cool Can Cost You the Job


Interviewing is a stressful process. There's no way around it. Even the most polished people feel under the microscope and may be nervous or hesitant. Unfortunately, this can be translated into being aloof, uninterested, or dispassionate. This is the last impression you want to make!

There was a time where interviews were very formal and, like a negotiation, you didn’t want to play your hand too soon or seem over eager. This dated mindset has been replaced and being coy about your intentions often backfires. Laura Mazzullo, Founder and Owner of East Side Staffing, has witnessed this shift, “Today’s trends are becoming a bit more informal and more personable in their tone”.

Pretending to be apathetic about a job opportunity is to your detriment. A job interview is not the time to play hard to get!  “[It] doesn’t work anymore. Employers don’t want candidates who act too aloof/disinterested in the offer when they secretly want the opportunity. If you are interested, say so!” stresses Mazzullo.

Think about it, if you had three candidates interviewing for a role with equal qualifications but one expressed a real passion for the work and the company, wouldn’t that be the deciding factor?

No one wants someone on their team that doesn't want to be there. By not showing your enthusiasm for the job, you're making yourself an undesirable candidate. I know from experience. When I was doing contract work and interviewed for an internal position with an organization already using my services, I made certain not to seem overeager about the role. I had glowing reviews and felt the interview had gone smoothly, yet I lost out on the role to someone far less qualified. When my supervisor inquired about how the decision was made, it came down to the sheer fact that I didn’t seem like I wanted the job. The other candidate, who still works for this company today, expressed immense enthusiasm and knew this was where her career would thrive. The hiring manager made the right choice, and passion was the deciding factor.

No one wants someone on their team that doesn’t want to be there.

Knowing how to express your enthusiasm is critical. Don't be over-the-top; there is no need to act like a hopelessly in love teenager fawning all over your interviewer. That crosses the line into creepy and desperate. Keep your I Heart Your Company t-shirts at home. Instead, explain and articulate what about this job interested you, what you know about the firm, and why you want to work there.

“Most Hiring Managers want to hire someone who is really excited to come on board. Showing a bit of enthusiasm and excitement about an opportunity is a good thing, especially if you are inclined to accept [an offer]” advises Mazzullo.

So how can you convey your interest best? Here are four smart ways to impress and express your enthusiasm during your interview:


·      Express knowledge of the company. By researching the business and being knowledgeable about its products, legacy, and its philanthropic pursuits demonstrates that you didn't just apply randomly. Your eyes are open to what the company stands for, and you want to be a part of it!

·      Be prepared for the interview. Knowing how to talk about your accomplishments and how they apply to the new role indicates to a hiring manager that you really gave thought to how you'd fit in and what value can bring to the team. It proves you are eager to contribute and are already envisioning how you can contribute from day one!

·      Asks thoughtful questions specific to the company/role. Seeing that you formulated questions ahead of time conveys real interest and excitement to learn more about the role. This makes a big impression as opposed to hum-drum generic questions a hiring manager often hears, e.g. How much vacation time do I get? How soon until I can be promoted?

·      Lastly, if you feel like you haven't conveyed it clearly, make a final statement about your interest. End the interview with a clear statement that defines your interest and how thrilled you would be to be a part of the work they do. Make sure to reinforce this message on your post-interview follow-up note to reinforce your verbal message. Paint a clear picture of that the opportunity means to you and your passion for the role at hand.


By showing genuine interest, you make yourself seem more desirable; excitement is contagious! People want to work with others that are motivated. A new hire can bring renewed energy to a team. It is proven that somebody who's passionate about the work will perform better and become a productive contributor. They are also more likely to stay with the company and be a better investment than someone who's just interested in a paycheck. Employee engagement is paramount to a company’s success and therefore, more important in your evaluation as a candidate.

Don't ever let a job slip through your hands because you were afraid to say how much you wanted it. Use these tips to enhance your marketability because your passion may be just what lands you your dream job!